I once had a boss who worked me into the ground. Cut from the same cloth as Miranda Priestly from the Devil Wears Prada, she was sharp. Abrasive. A master tactician. The head of an international organization (in a “third-world” nation), this woman spent her career tearing down walls and carving out a path in a male dominated field.
I feared her. We all did. She ruled with an iron fist and the sharpest of tongues. And her favourite line to bark, above all others, was:
Don’t bore me with your excuses. Figure it out and hit the ground running.
She often said these words after giving you a task that was completely foreign and a timeline that seemed impossible. But while I despised her methods, finding them abominable to the nth degree, I quickly figured out you either either sink to the bottom of the sea under her watch, or start flailing your limbs and learn how to swim.
I learned how to adapt to the gnarliest of situations because of that Powerhouse. Her approach taught me lessons on assertiveness, thinking outside the box, and how to develop a thick skin. With every new burden she placed on my shoulders I understood that some elements bend when exposed to fire, and how I housed endless reserves of strength and resilience.
Ironic, isn’t it, how we acquire some of our longest standing lessons in life? It’s been nine years since I worked for that woman but she’s never far from my mind. Oddly enough, I always think of her when I lace up my shoes, seeing the glint in her eye as I pull up my socks. I catch the scent of her perfume as I plan my route.
I hear the challenge in her voice as my feet make contact with asphalt.
“Just hit the ground running, JoAnna. You’ll figure it out.”